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Congress keeps Coast Guard helicopter flying

The U.S. Coast Guard helicopter base in Newport will remain open for the next year.

Democratic members of the Oregon delegation announced Wednesday that they were able to attach a provision to the Coast Guard authorization bill requiring them to keep the base operating through Jan. 1, 2016.

The base had been slated for closure to save $6 million a year. The Coast Guard has said it would be able to meet its rescue obligations with helicopters from bases in Astoria and North Bend, but response times would be longer.

Fishing boat Capt. Kelly Madden says that's good news, and he can't believe it is an issue. He was skipper of the Blazer when it sank last month, and the Newport-based helicopter airlifted some of his crew.